Wealthy French Copy Buffett, Demand More Taxes Too! Here’s Why It’s Very Fishy.
2:59 pm, August 24th | by Hillary Reinsberg
Copycats! Warren Buffett’s recent op-ed asking the government to stop coddling and raise taxes on the super wealthy has spurred lots of commentary, from approval to total naysaying. But the French (the French!) love the idea. In fact, they’re going to copy it. Interesting, but put in context, it’s more than a bit strange.
The wealthiest woman in France, Liliane Bettencourt, has penned a letter, arguing Buffett’s case from the French perspective. ”At a time when the government is asking everyone to show solidarity, we feel we must contribute,” she wrote. Bettencourt, the 88-year-old Loréal heiress, has managed to have her peers sign on. Sixteen others, including the CEO of the French bank Société Générale and Chairman of advertising giant Publicis SA, The Wall Street Journal reports.
For French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the situation is in a way stickier than it is here in the U.S. Sarkozy was elected on the promise that he’d in fact protect the wealthy, and not raise taxes. The move was a strategy to try to keep the very wealthy in France, rather than have them move to nearby tax havens like Switzerland.
Strangely enough, Bettencourt was accused last year of this very kind of tax evasion – and Sarkozy came under fire for it. Bettencourt’s former butler recorded tapes which allegedly alluded to the fact that Bettencourt was hiding $115 million in Swiss bank accounts that she failed to declare. On top of that, she apparently made major donations to Sarkozy’s party, in what looked like a bit of a bribe. And now, she’s asking Sarkozy to tax her more?
Strange. Very strange.
Additionally, Bettencourt was in a much-publicized years-long feud with her daughter, after the elder Bettencourt apparently gave a billion euros to a paparazzi photographer. At one point, her daughter called Bettencourt mentally unfit to manage her own finanical affairs. The drama has since been resolved, but it does seem like Bettencourt’s latest actions could be some sort of attempt to repair her public image.